How it works

Explanation of our concepts and methods

Introduction

By analyzing the raw materials contained within a device, we pinpoint the global hotspots where human rights violations are most likely to occur. Our goal is to provide a risk analysis that highlights the areas that should be focused for further activities, like further data collection, audits of suppliers, or exploration of design alternatives. In the following, we describe the basic concepts, assumptions, calculations and limitations behind Fairtronics.

Basic Concepts

Electronics Products consist of Components

When you create a social impact report with Fairtronics you can configure an electronics product from our component database, where we collect data about electronics components (like resistors, circuit boards, cables, ...). While we strive for completeness, especially in the beginning, you might have to select a component that fits "good enough" to the one that is actually part of your product.

Components are made from Raw Materials

For each component in our database we collect data about its total weight and the share in weight of the raw materials it is made of. Again, while we strive for completeness, in the beginning we focus on metals. You should be aware that weight is only a proxy for what we are actually interested in: working hours or potential for human harm. As long as we are missing better data sources, we assume that material weight corresponds to the human effort and therefore potential of harm that can be associated with this material.

Raw Materials are produced in different Countries

For each raw material (iron, copper, silver, ...), we collect data about world production share of different countries. So, in effect, we assume that for example copper in one component in your product is a mix of all copper sources in the world. Initially, we focus on collecting data about metals.

Countries show different risks concerning Social Impacts

Global institutions like the International Labor Organization or the Unicef provide reports and estimates for human rights conditions in different countries. While one singular supplier might perform better (or worse), we assume that these estimates provide an indication how likely it is that human rights were violated during the production of materials in this country.

Calculation of Activity Values, Risks and Hotspots

Activity Value

Based on our basic concepts and assumptions explained above, we calculate an activity value (share of total product weight) that can be associated to each component, material and country. In particular, this means that
  • An activity value of 10% for a component means that this component contributes 10% to the total weight of a product.
  • An activity value of 10% for a material means that this material contributes 10% to the total product weight (it may be part of various different components in the product).
  • An activity value of 10% for a country means, that the raw materials produced in this country contribute 10% to the total product weight (different raw materials may be produced in this country).

Risk Value

For each social indicator, the values are sorted and the highest 25% of values are interpreted as "High Risk", the lowest 25% of values as "Low Risk", and everything in between as "Medium Risk" (depending on the indicator interpretation, this may also be the other way round, with lowest values as "High Risk", and highest values as "Low Risk"). Initially these risk qualifications are only connected to countries, but via our assumed distribution of material production and component composition, they can be associated to materials and components as well. So, a component that is partly made of a material that is to a certain percentage produced in a "High Risk"-country for a specific indicator, is seen as "High Risk"-component.

Hotspots

Hotspots are those countries, components and materials that show the highest activity and highest risks. For each component, we highlight the two components that show high risk and have the highest activity as hotspots. If no components show high risk, we highlight the two medium risk components with highest activity etc. The same procedure applies for material and country hotspots.

Impact Categories

We follow the Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) guidelines and methodological sheets for identifying potential social impact categories. Currently we focus on workers as stakeholder group. In particular, we collect data for the impact categories Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, Child Labor, Fair Salary, Hours of Work, Forced Labor, Equal Opportunities / Discrimination, Health and Safety, Social Benefit / Social Security. Initially, we have defined and collected data for one indicator per impact category. In the following, we cite the definition for each impact category from the S-LCA methodological sheets, as these form the foundation for our understanding and data collection of "Fairness". For more details and explanations, please refer to the methodological sheets.

Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining

All workers and employers have the right to establish and to join organizations of their choice, without prior authorization, to promote and defend their respective interests, and to negotiate collectively with other parties. They should be able to do this freely, without interference by other parties or the state, and should not be discriminated as a result of union membership.

Indicator: The indicator is "Share of employees covered by one or more collective agreement (in percent), latest year)" as provided by ILOSTAT in the infographic under https://ilostat.ilo.org/topics/collective-bargaining/ (accessed 10 2019). The individual values per country stem from different years, the oldest from 2008. We used the list as is, only removing unneeded columns "MEASURE" and "TIME_PERIOD".

Child Labor

The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that is:

  1. Mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children;
  2. Depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;
  3. Obliging them to leave school prematurely; or
  4. Requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
In its most extreme forms, child labour involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at a very early age.

Indicator: The indicator is "Share of children engaged in economic activity and household chores (in percent), latest year" as provided by ILOSTAT in the infographic in https://ilostat.ilo.org/topics/child-labour/ (accessed 10 2019). The individual values per country stem from different years, the oldest from 2010. Some values are given for ages 5 to 17, others for ages 5 to 14. The provided list distinguishes between values for female, male and total. We only used the values for total.

Fair Salary

Fair wage means a wage fairly and reasonably commensurate with the value of a particular service or class of service rendered, and, in establishing a minimum fair wage for such service or class of service.

Indicator: The indicator is "Share of employment by economic class (in percent), ILO modelled estimates for 2018, with lowest economic class based on the World Bank's international poverty line of $1.90 a day (using 2011 PPPs)", as provided by ILOSTAT in the infographic under https://ilostat.ilo.org/topics/working-poor/ (accessed 10 2019). We only used the values for "Extremely poor".

Hours of Work

The hours of work comply with applicable laws and industry standards. Workers are not on a regular basis required to work in excess of 48 hours per week and have at least one day off for every 7-day period. Overtime is voluntary, does not exceed 12 hours per week, is not demanded on a regular basis and is compensated at a premium rate. The needs and expectations of the workers are taken into account in the organisation of working hours. There are also higher restrictions if the hours of work are made during the night.

Indicator: The indicator is "Share of employed persons working 40 or more hours per week, latest year", as provided by ILOSTAT in the infographic under https://ilostat.ilo.org/topics/working-time/ (accessed 10 2019). The individual values per country stem from different years, the oldest from 2015. We only used the values for "49 or more hours per week" and dropped "40 to 48 hours per week".

Forced Labor

Forced or compulsory labour is any work or service that is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty, and for which that person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily. Providing wages or other compensation to a worker does not necessarily indicate that the labour is not forced or compulsory. By right, labour should be offered voluntary and workers should be free to leave the employment at any time in accordance with established rules.

Indicator: The indicator is “prevalence of forced labour” as assessed by the ILO. Data is taken from the ILO report Global estimates of modern slavery: forced labour and forced marriage, page 19, table 2. Data are reported on the level of world regions. We map the data to individual countries.

Equal Opportunities / Discrimination

Everybody deserves a "fair chance". It doesn't matter what sex, race or age you are, if you have a disability, your marital status, whether you are pregnant, your family status or your family responsibilities, the religious or political beliefs you might hold and your sexual orientation. Everybody has the right to be treated fairly and access to equal opportunities.Equal opportunity or the principle of non-discrimination emphasizes that opportunities in education, employment, advancement, benefits and resource distribution, and other areas should be freely available to all citizens irrespective of their age, race, sex, religion, political association, ethnic origin, or any other individual or group characteristic unrelated to ability, performance, and qualification.

Indicator: The indicator is "Proportion of women in managerial positions (%)" as provided by ILOSTAT under https://ilostat.ilo.org/data/ (5.5.2 Women in management, Last update 30Sep19). The Excel file provides multiple entries for many countries with varying source type and time. We only used the latest available value per country for "Total management" (dropping "senior and middle management column).

Health and Safety

Occupational health should aim at: the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations; the prevention amongst workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; the placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological capabilities; and, to summarize, the adaptation of work to man and of each man to his job.

Indicator: The indicator is "Fatal occupational injuries per 100'000 workers" as provided by ILOSTAT under https://ilostat.ilo.org/data/ (accessed 10 2019). The Excel file provides multiple entries for Source and Time per country. We selected the latest available value. We only used the values for "Total" and "Fatal" (dropping the distinction between male/female and non-fatal injuries).

Social Benefit / Social Security

Social benefits refer to non-monetary employment compensation. Four basic categories of Social Security benefits are often included and are paid based upon the record of worker’s earnings: Retirement, disability, dependents, and survivors benefits.

Indicator: The indicator is "Share of population covered by at least one social protection benefit (in percent), latest year" as provided by ILOSTAT in the infographic under https://ilostat.ilo.org/topics/social-protection/ (accessed 10 2019). The individual values per country stem from different years, the oldest from 2016.

Data for Component Materials

We retrieved data on the material composition of the components from full material declarations by manufacturers, published of their websites.
Component Source Date
Aluminium Electrolytic Capacitor SMD 6.3x5.5 FMD for NACE 6.3x5.5 Series by NIC Components 2004-10-01
Aluminium Electrolytic Capacitor SMD 10x8 FMD for NACE 10x8 Series by NIC Components 2004-10-01
Multilayer Ceramic Capacitor SMD 0603 Class I BME FMD for NMC NP0 0603 Series by NIC Components 2004-10-01
Multilayer Ceramic Capacitor SMD 0603 Class II BME FMD for NMC X5R 0603 Series by NIC Components 2004-10-01
Zener Diode SOD-123 FMD for MMSZ10: 500 mW 10 V ±5% Zener Diode Voltage Regulator by ON Semiconductors 2020-01-30
Zener Diode SOD-523 FMD for MM5Z2V4: 500 mW Standard Tolerance Zener Diode Voltage Regulator by ON Semiconductors 2020-01-30
Small Signal Schottky Diode SOD-323 FMD for BAT46WJ Schottky barrier diode by nexperia (Ex-NXP, Ex-Philips) 2018-04-25
Schottky Barrier Rectifier Diode DO-214AC FMD for SK54A-L Schottky Barrier Rectifier by MCC 2016-12-20
PTC Resettable Fuse SMD 2920 FMD for MF-LSMF185/33X by Bourns 2010-12-15
Ferrite Chip Bead SMD 0603 FMD for MH1608 by Bourns 2018-04-17
Standard Rectifier Diode DO-41 FMD for 1N4001G by ON Semiconductor 2020-02-07
Standard Rectifier Diode DO-214AC FMD for NRD Series by NIC Components 2008-08-15
Metallized polyester (PET/MKT) film capacitor, 5mm lead spacing, radial boxed, 2.5×6.5×7.3 FMD for MKT FILM (Boxed) B32529C1104Mxxx 2019-11-18
Bipolar Electrolytic Capacitor Radial 5,5 x 12,0 mm Umbrella Spec for EKSU from Frolyt 2019-08-12
Thick Film Chip Resistor 0603 FMD for CR0603 Series by Bourns 2003-01-04
Single-ended USB-A cable AWG24 2.0m FMD for USB Cacle Assembly by TE Connectivity 2020-01-24
Single-ended USB-A cable AWG24 1.3m calculated from 2m variant 2020-01-24
Mechanical Incremental Rotary Encoder 12mm Shaftless FMD for PES12 Encoder by Bourns 2008-06-23
Ultra Miniature Micro Switch with Lever 13x7x4mm Through Hole FMD for UP01DTANLA04 micro switch by TE Connectivity 2017-10-11
Ultra Miniature Micro Switch without Lever 13x7x4mm Through Hole calculated from variant with lever 2017-10-11
Solder Wire HS10 Fair Supply chain for HS10 Fair by Stannol / FairLötet e.V. 2018-10-01
Solder Paste Sn96.5Ag3Cu0.5 (SAC) Safety Data Sheet for M8 REL22 by AIM Solder 2017-11-16
General Simple Logic IC in P-DIP with 8 pins FMD for CD40107BEE4 by Texas Instruments 2020-02-20
1-layer PCB with FR-4 laminat and NiAu (chem. gold) finish Fairtronics' calculation 2020-02-20
IC BGA 256 17x17x1.41mm FMD for TMS320C28346ZFETR by Texas instruments 2020-02-26
IC PLCC 44 16.6x16.6x4.57mm FMD for SN74ACT8990FN by Texas Instruments 2020-02-26
IC SO 20 12.8x7.5x2.65mm FMD for CDC208NSR by Texas Instruments 2020-02-26
IC TQFP 32 5x5x1.0mm FMD for TLV320AIC1103 by Texas Instruments 2020-02-26
IC TSSOP 48 6.1x12.5x1.2mm FMD for MSP430FR4133IG48R by Texas Instruments 2020-02-26
Resistor THT Metal film 4.5x11mm + 28mm axial FMD for NMO100 Series by NIC Components 2008-08-13
Transistor 15V NPN SOT-23 with 3 leads FMD for FMMT617 by Diodes Inc. 2007-08-01

Data for Materials from Countries

The material's world production share of different countries has been obtained from https://www.usgs.gov/centers/nmic/commodity-statistics-and-information by the U.S. Geological Survey. For quite a few materials, it provides "Mineral Commodity Summaries" annually, which contain data on "World Mine Production". For aluminium we took bauxite, and for iron we took iron ore as a proxy.

Future Developments

We consider the current state of Fairtronics to be in Prototype status. Possible future steps and extensions are:
  • Evaluation of current calculation according to S-LCA guidelines
  • Extension of data base to cover more components and materials
  • Extension of data base to cover further stakeholder groups (local community, consumer, ...)
  • Extension of data base and calculation to further life cycle stages (assembly of components, assembly of final product, disposal, ...)